32 Tennessee Teens Go All Shawshank and Escape from Juvie

More than half of the escaped teens were back in custody Tuesday after they broke out of Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville.

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UPDATE: The Tennessee Department of Children's Services put out an update late Tuesday morning, saying that all but nine teenagers were back in custody.

The department said, "No staff members were seriously injured in the event, and the breached fence has been fixed."

Here's more from their description of what happened:

At approximately 11 p.m. Monday, September 1, some students at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in North Nashville made their way out of their dorm rooms, which are not locked from the inside, and made into the campus yard.

Once in the yard, the students milled and ran about the yard for several minutes. After discovering a weak spot in the bottom of the perimeter fence, they crawled beneath the chain link and escaped. In total, 32 students left the premises.

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, nine students are at large.

Those who have been found are currently at the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court, where they could face escape charges. The Metro Nashville police assisted in locating the students, as have family members who brought some of the youth back."

UPDATE: As of around 9 a.m. Tuesday, 14 teens remained at-large after three more were apprehended early in the morning, Rob Johnson, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, told The Wire.

Johnson said that while there were no reports of criminal activity by the escaped youths, authorities were instructing the public to be alert and contact law enforcement if they see anything suspicious. "I think people have to be careful," Johnson said, noting that some of the teenagers had committed violent crimes in the past.

The origins of the prison break remained unclear, he said. Authorities know it began when the teens went running out into the yard of the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center after a shift change late Monday night, Johnson said..

Whether they intended to break out or found a weak spot in the fence and decided to take advantage, I'm not sure."

Johnson said that in May, a number of teenagers at the detention center made it out of their dorms and ran around, unauthorized, in the yard. But they didn't leave the prison.

"This is a different twist," he said, in a bit of an understatement.

ORIGINAL: More than 30 Tennessee teens escaped from a juvenile detention center in Nashville on Monday by slipping under a chain-linked fence, authorities said.

Many of them didn't get far, however. The mass prison break from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center led to an overnight manhunt, and as of early Tuesday, 15 of the 32 fugitives had turned themselves in or were caught by police, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, Rob Johnson, told CNN.

Johnson said the youths ranged in age from 14 to 19. They apparently left their dorms around 11 p.m., ran around the prison yard and crawled under a weak spot in an "anti-climb chain-linked fence," he told ABC News.

Authorities didn't know if the break was spontaneous or a Shawshank-style plot. The teens incarcerated at Woodlands have each committed at least three felonies, some including armed robbery and violent crimes. But as ABC helpfully noted, there are no murderers on the loose.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.